The Basics of Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is generated from a metal called uranium. Uranium is mined in places such as Australia, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, France and many other countries. The uranium is used to create controlled nuclear reactions called nuclear fission. Nuclear fission gives off a tremendous amount of heat which is used to heat water to create steam. This steam turns turbines which produces electricity. In a standard fossil fuel electricity station the same thing occurs except the burning of the fossil fuel heats the water to create steam. Nuclear power plants can produce more energy using less fuel and thus they are seen as a more environmental friendly source of power.
What are the Disadvantages of Nuclear Power?
Due to many countries looking to find more environmentally friendly ways of producing power the advantages of nuclear power have been widely publicized. It is important, however to understand the disadvantages of this type of power usage as well. Understanding both sides of nuclear power is important especially in the light of the most recent nuclear disaster in Japan at Fukushima I.
The production of nuclear power produced a lot of waste material. This waste material is extremely hazardous and difficult to dispose of safely. Most radioactive waste produced by a nuclear power plant is keep on site or is buried underground in huge concrete pits. This waste has to be carefully looked after for many thousands of years.
High risks associated with accidents
While the chance of a nuclear accident happening are relatively low the risks associated are extremely high. Even small radiation leaks can cause devastating effects on the surrounding environment and people. A cataclysmic accident can cause widespread radiation poisoning across many countries as the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster proved.
Due to the wide spread damage a reactor breach could cause, nuclear power plants could become favoured terrorist targets. Some nuclear reactions also produce plutonium in large quantities which could be used in nuclear weaponry.
Nuclear power is not a renewable source of energy. Uranium is a metal that is mined from the ground in much the same way as coal is mined. It is a scarce metal and the supply of uranium will one day run out making all the nuclear power plants obsolete. Nuclear power is not a long term solution to finding a renewable, environmentally friendly energy source.
Time and Money
It takes a long time to plan and build a nuclear power plant that is safe and effective. Nuclear power is therefore to a quick solution to the world’s energy issues. In addition to the time it take to effectively plan and build a nuclear power plant, a lot of money has to be spent to make sure that the plant is safe. Unsafe plants mean that there are more likely to be accidents.